Two reporters I know have been either assaulted or threatened at Donald Trump rallies.
Breitbart’s Michelle Fields found herself in the middle of a controversy this week when her arm was grabbed, leaving a bruise, because she dared to…
Ask a question.
Like all reporters do.
The point is it happened at a Trump rally.
The point is, this kind of thing isn’t happening at Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio or John Kasich rallies (or Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, etc.).
Huffington Post reported Thursday:
Yasmeen Alamiri was standing in the press pen at a Donald Trump rally in Radford, Virginia, late last month when a man in the crowd called her a terrorist.
The slur didn’t register, perhaps because Alamiri, a 31-year-old Arab-American, had heard it before, or more likely because she was focused on her work as a reporter for RarePolitics.com... as Alamiri walked to the edges of the press pen to get a good angle for her Facebook Live feed, it happened again. Another man in the crowd walked by and motioned to a nearby police officer. “Are you there for this terrorist?” he asked, gesturing to Alamiri.
She said she was spooked. Though she enjoys a good relationship with Trump’s staff, the rally was tense. “It felt like something could happen…”
After she finished covering the event and began walking to her car a few miles away, Alamir noticed herself moving briskly and not making eye contact with people in the crowd.
“I’m a foreign policy reporter. My family lives in Iraq and I go to Iraq every year,” she said. “For me to be scared of something says a lot, since I’m going to active war zones.”
On Wednesday, a 78-year-old Trump supporter punched a Black Lives Matter protester in the face at a Trump rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Trump thought it was “impressive” for a man his age. Showing zero remorse, the elderly puncher, John McGraw, said later of his victim, “Next time we might have to kill him!”
“Kill” a protester.
The Daily Beast’s Olivia Nuzzi wrote after Thursday’s GOP debate:
The Trump campaign has fostered a culture of violence wherein intimidation and regular assaults on civilians and the media—or anybody not wearing a Make America Great Again! hat—is acceptable.
The debate touched on it only briefly.
“Do you believe you’ve done anything to create a tone where this kind of violence would be encouraged,” CNN’s Jake Tapper, the moderator, asked Trump—referring to the assault of the protester, not the assault of Fields.
“I hope not, I truly hope not,” Trump said. And then he explained the violence away by saying it was all due to passion and patriotism…
Then Tapper asked Trump’s Republican opponents what they thought of this kind of violent behavior.
One by one, they all punted. Nuzzi continued:
Rather than correct Trump or condemn the behavior of his supporters and staff members, his opponents deflected questions about violence even better than he did.
“Listen, I think for every one of us, we need to show respect to the people,” Cruz said…
And John Kasich? “I worry about the violence at rallies, period,” he said. And then, quickly, “Jake, here’s what I think is happening: There are people out there who are worried about their jobs.”
But Rubio did worst of all. “I’m concerned about violence in general in the society,” he said, “and by the way, the first people who are facing that violence are our law enforcement officers and they deserve our respect and our thanks for everything they do for us. On the issue of anger, yes, people are angry, of course they’re angry—every institution in America has been failing us for the better part of 20 or 30 years!”
Not a single candidate—Cruz, Kasich or Rubio—condemned this kind of behavior outright. They all seemed more worried about offending Trump’s supporters.
That’s where we are in this election.
Whether Trump intentionally incites this kind of behavior or not—when it is put before him he rarely condemns it and makes many excuses for it.
On Thursday night, so did every other Republican candidate.
Politicians will never agree on everything. Political parties are full of factions and fissures.
But any decent, compassionate, moral (how about Christian?) person should be able to agree that abusing women, assaulting protesters and threatening minorities is unacceptable behavior in any context.
This is basic Golden Rule stuff.
Republicans care about family values. How about human values? The sanctity of life? The dignity of the individual?
Or does embracing what appears to be a new and emboldened identity politics on the right wipe all the old values away?
For mere votes?
Many now wonder if the ugly politics Trump’s campaign continues to cultivate represents a dark turning point for the country. Time will tell.
What we do know, as Thursday reminded us, is that the few 2016 Republicans left with the platform and voice to speak out against this behavior—and potentially with the ability to stop it—refused to do so when they had the chance.